Arizona Game and Fish Commission Takes Action on Heritage Fund Spending Proposal before the Legislature
Arizona Game and Fish Department 03.18.14
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission today held a public meeting to discuss the strike-everything amendment to House Bill 2127, a proposal that would allow the Arizona Game and Fish Department to use Heritage Fund property acquisition funds to operate, maintain and protect Heritage Fund properties that the commission owns.
The department recommended that the commission vote not to move the strike-everything amendment forward. The commission voted unanimously to approve the department’s recommendation.
The commission asked the department to provide additional information and more detail on current operations, maintenance and protection expenditures on Heritage Fund-acquired properties for a meeting tentatively scheduled for March 28. The commission also asked the department to develop and present a funding solution by Sept. 1 for the commission to consider.
The solution should consider the following: protect the department’s ability to operate current properties and related programming; require future Heritage Fund property acquisitions to have appropriate programs for operations, maintenance and protection built into them; and, the solution should not rely on increased use of sportsmen’s dollars to support them, nor should it negatively impact the nongame wildlife program.
Constituents expressed concern about the amendment as proposed, that the commission might no longer acquire properties that benefit wildlife and would perhaps use the full $2.4 million acquisition allocation for operations, maintenance and protection. Constituents also expressed concern over the lack of public input on the current proposal. Many of the organizations expressed a desire to work with the department in seeking solutions to these issues. The commission understood the concerns and asked the department to work with interested organizations and the public to develop recommended solutions.
Since voters passed the Heritage Fund Act in 1990, the department has acquired 16 properties that conserve important habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife species.